U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) Thursday discussed challenges businesses and workers face due to the jobs gap at a hearing that included testimony from a local manufacturer. Peter Barrett of Smoker Craft, a boat manufacturer in New Paris with 690 employees, testified before the Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee about the need for skilled workers and efforts to get more Hoosiers into the workforce.
“For local manufacturers like Smoker Craft, business is booming, but the jobs gap continues to create challenges,” Congresswoman Walorski said after the hearing. “Businesses need more skilled workers, and too many Americans remain on the sidelines of our growing economy. As we work to find commonsense solutions, I’m grateful Peter was here to testify about the need for workforce development so this family-owned business can continue to create good jobs for Hoosiers.”
“The concept of workforce training programs is vital to bridging the jobs gap we are facing today and in the future,” Barrett testified before the subcommittee. “Simply put, we need skilled workers. Our industry needs welders, riveters, assembly people, and truck drivers. Shop classes need to return, and exposure to careers in manufacturing through internships and apprenticeships should be encouraged. Careers in the trades need to be recognized and glorified. Our workforce is the backbone of this country. We need to support the expansion of career and technical education, or CTE, just as we support four-year and graduate education.”
Video of Barrett’s opening statement and Walorski’s questions is available here.
The hearing on “Jobs and Opportunity: Local Perspectives on the Jobs Gap” was the first in a series of hearings examining the gap between businesses’ demand for workers and the millions of Americans not in the labor force. According to the Ways and Means Committee, 5.5 million Americans aged 16 to 24 – one in seven – are not working or in school, and an additional 7 million working-age men are not working or looking for work.
Founded in 1903, Smoker Craft, Inc., is a fourth-generation family-owned and operated boat manufacturer. The company employs 690 workers and manufactures pontoon boats, fiberglass boats, and aluminum fishing boats under the brand names Smoker Craft, Starcraft, Sunchaser, and Sylvan. Peter Barrett is senior vice president of marketing and corporate development at Smoker Craft.
Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.